Helping the Home Renovator

Helping the Home Renovator

As long as he can remember, Andrew Dewberry has been dreaming up new and better ways to do things. He recalls lying in bed one night. And, he is unable to fall asleep. He is contemplating the car industry. And how it would be more efficient if the steelmaker was located next door to the car plant.

Not your normal way of counting sheep – especially since Dewberry was just 11 at the time. “I’ve always been a lateral thinker,’’ says the 43-year-old native of England. “I just can’t stay still mentally.’’

In 1991 Dewabrry, an architect, emigrated to Canada with his wife, Jayne, a criminologist. While renovating the bathroom in their new home – the third he’d done in his life-Dewberry decided there had to be a better way to apply the caulking that seals and waterproofs the edges around a tub. He’d also noticed workers on job sites he’d visited smoothing silicone caulking with their fingertips-even though against contact with skin.

Dewberry started tinkering and soon came up with the Caulk-Rite-a short, plastic handle with an arrow-head-shaped end. It holds a triangular piece of soft, rubber-like material that does the smoothing. In 1996 the couple spent $ 7000 to have 3000 units made. And they invited friends over for a pizza-and –beer bash and an evening of assembling and packaging the Caulk-Rite tools.

At first they thought they would simply license the design, but there were no takers. And when they called hardware stores, “they wanted to know who we were, how many we had sold, what other products we had to sell, and what our track record was,’’ recalls Jayne. “we were terribly naïve.’’undeterred, they pushed ahead, and over the next two years, while Andrew kept his day job to pay the mortgage, Jayne made the rounds of stores, Happy to sell  a half dozen at each stop. “Every time I got a sale, I phoned up a senior official of the company and said, ‘Guess what? I’ve sold another six!’’

The strategy worked. The couple also landed accounts with some supermarket chains.

They also became a hit on an American home-shopping television channel. They packaged a Caulk-Rite tool with a tube of silicone, gloves, instructions and their new tool-a caulking remover called Caulk-Away-for $20.

The orders flooded in-at one point, 7000 kits were sold in seven minutes.

Today the couple are busy growing their business-which supports them both full-time-and enjoying the challenges that continue to crop up. “we make mistakes,’’ says Dewberry, “but we’re somewhat pigheaded, and eventually we get there.’’

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